Why your remote meetings need a break

One thing is certain: hybrid work is the future of work. We’ve talked in previous articles about the benefits and challenges employees face when working from home, and today is time to talk about how not breaks between meetings in hybrid work having is challenging our wellbeing.

The annual Microsoft’s Work Trend Index research reports since February 2020, the digital intensity of workers’ days has increased substantially. In one year, the average number of meetings has risen by 148% and therefore, meeting fatigue has become part of our day to day.

Not having breaks between meetings increases the stress level and meeting fatigue. Many people just jump directly from one meeting to another, with no chance to stretch, drink water or just clear their head. The antidote for meeting stress and fatigue is simple as taking short breaks.

Breaks between meetings in hybrid work allow your brain to “reset,” reducing a cumulative buildup of stress. Also taking breaks will increase your ability to focus and engage during a meeting.

Your brain needs a break during virtual meetings in remote work

Illustration by Brown Bird Design

To manage this, you can find 2 quick solutions in Outlook and Microsoft Teams that will give you the time you need to transition more peacefully from one meeting to the next.

How to create space for breaks with Outlook

Settings in Microsoft Outlook make it easier and automatic to carve out these essential breaks between back-to-back meetings—and because Microsoft knows that one size does not fit all, you and your company have two options:

  1. Individuals can set scheduling defaults that automatically shorten the meetings they schedule.
  2. Or set organization-wide scheduling defaults that shorten meetings and create space for breaks for everyone at the company.

The setting is easily customizable. For example, you can choose if the break is at the beginning or end of meetings. You can also choose the length of the break. For instance, it could be a five-minute break ahead of all 30-minute meetings or a 15-minute break after all hour-long meetings. Once the setting is enabled, when employees schedule meetings, the meeting start, or end-time will automatically be adjusted based on the individual or company-wide setting.

How to make space for breaks in Outlook and decrease meeting fatigue

If the feature is turned on at the company-level, individuals can easily change or customize the setting at any time—for one meeting or all their meetings. Employees will see a notification when they schedule meetings, letting them know of the organization-wide setting.

Outlook warning screenshot about default breaks between remote meetings

Personal wellbeing insights in Microsoft Teams

Last month Microsoft released the new ’personal wellbeing insights’ in Microsoft Teams via the new employee experience platform, Microsoft Viva.

You can find on the Viva Insights app the following new personal wellbeing experiences:

  • A reflection feature that will help you become more aware of how you’re feeling and identify patterns over time. These insights are personal and private to the individual.
  • A send praise feature that will enable you to express appreciation for your colleagues and schedule praise reminders to build a habit of sharing gratitude.
  • A virtual commute feature that will help you wrap up your tasks at the end of the workday, prepare for tomorrow, and transition into your personal time with peace of mind.


Using Viva Insights to take breaks between virtual meetings in hybrid work and increase wellbeing

Hybrid work can deliver a future that people want, and wellbeing should not be a challenge in your daily tasks. Having a clear mind is the best way to stay calm, focused and productive. So, we hope these features help make your back-to-back meetings days lighter and smoother.

To learn more about Microsoft Viva characteristics check this article.

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